Lent: First Saturday: This week marked the beginning of the season of Lent, the traditional 40 days of prayer, fasting, reflection and repentance that precedes the great Easter celebrations. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness learning to overcome the Enemy, so we set this time aside for spiritual warfare and renewal. It is common during this time to imitate the simplicity of Jesus in the wilderness by abstaining from rich foods and strong drink during this season, and to devote extra time to the practice of the spiritual disciplines.
CALL TO WORSHIP
God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
An Urgent Plea for Help in Trouble
To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Psalm of David.
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.
Those who hate me without a cause
Are more than the hairs of my head;
They are mighty who would destroy me,
Being my enemies wrongfully;
Though I have stolen nothing,
I still must restore it.
O God, You know my foolishness;
And my sins are not hidden from You.
Let not those who wait for You, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.
Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;
Shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
And an alien to my mother’s children;
Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting,
That became my reproach.
I also made sackcloth my garment;
I became a byword to them.
Those who sit in the gate speak against me,
And I am the song of the drunkards.
But as for me, my prayer is to You,
O Lord, in the acceptable time;
O God, in the multitude of Your mercy,
Hear me in the truth of Your salvation.
Deliver me out of the mire,
And let me not sink;
Let me be delivered from those who hate me,
And out of the deep waters.
Let not the floodwater overflow me,
Nor let the deep swallow me up;
And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.
Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;
Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.
And do not hide Your face from Your servant,
For I am in trouble;
Hear me speedily.
Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;
Deliver me because of my enemies.
You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor;
My adversaries are all before You.
Reproach has broken my heart,
And I am full of heaviness;
I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
And for comforters, but I found none.
They also gave me gall for my food,
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Let their table become a snare before them,
And their well-being a trap.
Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see;
And make their loins shake continually.
Pour out Your indignation upon them,
And let Your wrathful anger take hold of them.
Let their dwelling place be desolate;
Let no one live in their tents.
For they persecute the ones You have struck,
And talk of the grief of those You have wounded.
Add iniquity to their iniquity,
And let them not come into Your righteousness.
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
And not be written with the righteous.
But I am poor and sorrowful;
Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high.
I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull,
Which has horns and hooves.
The humble shall see this and be glad;
And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.
For the Lord hears the poor,
And does not despise His prisoners.
Let heaven and earth praise Him,
The seas and everything that moves in them.
For God will save Zion
And build the cities of Judah,
That they may dwell there and possess it.
Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it,
And those who love His name shall dwell in it.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
(A short time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous. Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)
OLD TESTAMENT READING
2 Chronicles 7:11-14
If My People Pray
Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Pause for Reflection……
(Take a moment to bring to God any issues that have arisen during the morning. You may like to end with the following prayer…)
Lord Jesus we thank you for the many blessings of this day,
Give us eyes to see the path ahead,
And faith to reach towards the prize. Amen
(If these prayers are taking place before food, you may like to say the Grace here instead.)
Lord God, we thank you for your gift to us of this food;
Produce of earth, sky, many living beings, and much hard work.
May we eat with prayerfulness, gratitude and moderation;
With renewed minds and spirit-controlled appetites.
May we eat with compassion for those who hunger today,
And in such a way that reduces the suffering of all creatures;
Healing and preserving our precious planet.
Use this food to strengthen our bodies, revive our spirits,
Nurture our family and nourish our resolve;
That we may continue to serve all that lives with all our life. Amen
Psalms taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Other Scripture taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.